How to apply for UK visa if you're a Filipino Citizen

Friday, December 1, 2017 —
In this post I'm going to talk about the UK visa application/requirements. 

(The FAQS and tips I'm going to share are for my fellow Filipinos who want to apply for a UK VISA)



Okay, first you need to know is that there are different visas you need when you visit Europe. 
It's my first time to apply and I want to share with you guys how I gathered my requirements etc. Hopefully this will help you if ever you're going to apply for these visas!



 I applied for UK visa first before I applied for Schengen. Why? Because my point of entry is London so I scheduled this appointment first.

You can read about How to apply for Schengen visa HERE


INFORMATION ABOUT THE UK VISA

With this you can travel around England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland



Please take note that the UK visa just covers NORTHERN Ireland. That's different from Ireland (if you're planning to visit Dublin or other cities in Ireland, that's a different visa -- the Republic of Ireland is also not part of the Schengen group, I promise to keep this short so I won't include the explanation here. Google if you're curious hahaha).

DID YOU GO THROUGH A TRAVEL AGENCY?

YES, I got an agency (Aerostar Travel tours Shangrila Mall --- this is not sponsored) to do the booking of our visa appointment (I applied with my dad) BUT to be honest, you don't need one. I was just REALLY lazy to read the VFS website about scheduling visa appointments.

So what they did for me is to book dummy flights (MNL-LDN, LDN-MNL) because I didn't want to book these yet. Dummy flight meaning it's just a reservation and the travel agent can cancel it anytime.

They said they double checked my requirements but to be honest, I was lacking of something then they didn't notice it. I was the one who realized it. So I don't know if they thoroughly checked it so guys, it's still YOUR responsibility to complete the requirements/documents (make sure you have everything!)

Going through an agency is not an assurance that you'll get a visa. I interviewed the girl in the travel agency and it really depends on the requirements you're going to submit. 

SO IF WE DON'T GO THROUGH AN AGENCY, WHERE CAN WE SCHEDULE THE VISA APPOINTMENT?

NO, you don't apply directly to the embassy. 
All scheduling of appointments / applications go through VFS - http://www.vfsglobal.com/

This is the link where you can book your UK visa appointment, if you don't want to pay get an agency: http://www.vfsglobal.co.uk/philippines/

WHAT IS VFS? 

It is the world's largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide. Visa application processing and consular support services offer diplomatic missions an integrated process from submission to delivery.

Here in the Philippines, all European countries use VFS (their office is located in EcoPlaza in Pasong Tamo). 


HOW MUCH DID YOU PAY THE AGENCY?

P1500 for the service fee.
 
DO YOU RECOMMEND GETTING A TRAVEL AGENCY TO HELP YOU BOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT?

If you have spare P1500 and don't want to go through the VFS website, go for it. But if you have the patience to study it, then don't get an agency. I think if I ever apply for a visa next year, I'll try to book my own appointment. But the convenience of them just giving you a schedule is WONDERFUL. It really depends on your budget.


HOW MUCH IS THE UK VISA FEE?

P6500 for the visa application (I think this is the standard price). The agency was the one who paid for it, I didn't pay for anything when I went to my visa appointment (except for the courier). Because as far as I know, after you book your application online, you need to deposit P6500 for the visa fee. So agency did this for me.

COURIER FEE is P1200. I don't know why it's freakin expensive but we paid after the visa appointment for this (in VFS). You can opt to pick it up, but my dad said he wanted to courier option.

How many months before your scheduled trip did you apply?

I started fixing my requirements 2 months before my scheduled trip. The agency got an appointment for UK a week after I submitted my requirements.

When I applied, VFS told me to wait 10-15 working days. They processed mine in 10 days. What's great about this is that they will text you if your visa is already in the UK embassy & if it's already on the way back to VFS/when it'll be delivered to you.

 You also have an option to fast track everything (so you can get your visa in like 3-5 days), but you have to pay for extra (i can't remember how much but I remember it being crazy expensive).

TIP: Fix your requirements 3 months before.

What kind of visa/ the longevity of stay did UK give you?
 
 They gave me and my dad 6 months, multiple entry visas.

Did they interview you?

Nope they didn't. I just submitted my documents and did my biometrics. Of course they will double check your documents so make sure you have everything (original and photocopy). I'll discuss this further later.

DOCUMENTS YOU NEED TO SUBMIT:




This is the list of requirements I submitted (ORIGINAL AND PHOTOCOPY). 

Don't worry, they will return / mail back the original copies of your documents.

Ok so let me go through everything!


SIGNED VISA APPLICATION

The travel agency gave the visa form to me. the form is available in the VFS UK visa website.

BIRTH CERTIFICATE

original and photocopy, okay!

1. PASSPORT 

make sure it's not going to expire soon!

2. OTHER PASSPORTS 

I also submitted my old passports because my US, Japan and Korea visas are there.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS!!!!

PHOTOCOPY OF ALL PASSPORT PAGES WITH STAMPS and EXISTING & FORMER VISAS - they really look for these.

ALL YOUR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL HISTORY FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS (dates, duration and destination) - this was the most tedious part of the application. 

 Example:
February 2014 to May 2014 - United States - 3 months
August 1 to August 15, 2015 - Japan - 15 days

you get the drill? you have to list EVERYTHING. 


3. RECENT PHOTOGRAPH 

they didn't get mine because they take your photo in the biometrics section anyway. But since it's part of the requirements, just go to any photo store and ask for a photo for the UK visa (they know it already --- size, background color).

4. EVIDENCE OF PERMISSION... - 

 For some weird reason I skipped this part because my agency said so haha

5. Not applicable (to me)

6. EVIDENCE OF ARRANGEMENTS MADE ( flight, accommodation, sponsor letter - if you have a relative in UK)

I submitted my dummy flight booking, my mom's flight ticket (as support document), print out copies of the hotel bookings my mom made (they're only going to London, Paris, Rome, Newcastle and Scotland) -- my mom was so confident we (my dad and I) were gonna get visas so she already booked our hotels for those cities.

But if you are not confident with final hotel reservations, Booking.com has this option where you can temporarily book your hotels. Temporary meaning the establishments have free cancellation option. This means no ties at all. Just in case you find a better option for lodging or worst case, your visa doesn't get approved.

I DON'T HAVE A CREDIT CARD, HOW CAN I BOOK THESE?

 Booking.com (they didn't sponsor me ok haha just helping you guys out) has a book without credit card option (meaning you will pay when you get to the hotel --- also means free cancellation!) 


Check the left side of the screenshot "Free cancellation & more" option. 

WHAT IF I HAVE A RELATIVE IN UK AND I'M GOING TO STAY WITH HIM/HER?

THEN GOOD! Ask your relative to send you necessary documents. We have a relative in London so I asked my uncle to send me an image of the first page of this passport and a sponsor letter stating we were going to stay in his flat, his address, contact details etc. It should be detailed. He said he was going let us stay in his flat but not pay for our travels around UK. Because if a relative is going to fully sponsor you (meaning financial aid), the relative must submit his/her bank account and other documents showing he/she can support your trip.

7. EVIDENCE OF EMPLOYMENT AND ALL INCOME 

If you're employed, letter from your employer, employee cert from your HR - how much your earn per month & ITR (income tax return) of the company

But if you're freelance like me - business registration, itr, proof of work

OK, so this whole freelance thing made me nervous. I've been working freelance for 7 years now so I'm always kinda nervous when I apply for visa. To cut the story short, I finally registered myself -- well my accountant did haha (like 2 months ago) as a freelance writer so I have a business registration and ITR already.


SO AS A FREELANCE WRITER/STYLIST/BLOGGER, WHAT DID YOU SUBMIT FOR THIS SECTION?

My business registration, my fairly new ITR, print out of magazine and website articles I wrote and styled for the past 7 years (of course not everything! but enough to prove I've been working freelance for the past 7 years), my instagram page, and even as screenshot of my webpage. YES! I submitted those. WHY? It's better to submit a lot of documents of proof of work (especially if you're freelance).

8 & 9. not applicable for me

10. EVIDENCE OF MONTHLY INCOME - You get a bank certificate AND bank statement (the last 3 months prior to your visa application). You can get these from your bank, tell them you're applying for a UK visa (because they need to address the bank cert letter to the embassy).

HOW MUCH SHOULD BE IN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT?

To be honest I don't know what's a safe amount. I think it's safe to have 200k-300k in your bank account.

11. EVIDENCE OF ABILITY TO MEET COSTS OF THIS TRIP 

TIP: Ask for your parents' BANK STATEMENT, BANK CERTIFICATE, LETTER OF AFFIDAVIT
and LETTER OF SUPPORT & GUARANTEE (submit these eventhough they're not applying a visa).

Why?

This is to assure the country that you have a fallback just in case you run out of money. That your parents can support your finances when you travel. I always and forever submit these (Even when I applied for Japan and Korea visas). And when they ask me why I do, I tell them my parents will contribute to my travel funds.

12. EVIDENCE OF ASSETS 

 since I applied with my dad, he was the one who submitted these (plus I still live with my parents hehe). Property deeds (lands, cars, proof of ALL the properties you own). 


13. EVIDENCE OF ACCOMMODATION / TRAVEL DETAILS  
 (realized this is just like number 6 haha ok)


COVER LETTER and ITINERARY 

Ok, so I'm going to attach here the cover letter I sent and a part of my itinerary. For my safety I won't copy paste my whole EU IT hahaha

Sample cover letter:

 
Sample itinerary:


TIP: Of course you use google to research about the places you want to go to, right? So what I did for the itinerary I submitted is that I googled this: "1 week in London itinerary" :)) 
EASY PEASY RIGHT?

Researching through google is your bestfriend. This is so easy to do.

I didn't submit any of the additional information part (14,15,16) : marriage certificate (I'm single duh lol), evidence of family members remaining in your home (I'm an only child and we're traveling as a family), and TB certificate (you don't need this if you never had a lung/tuberculosis problem).

---

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS:

SO IS IT BETTER TO APPLY WITH YOUR FAMILY?

I think so. My dad is really old (he's 71) so I believe it's a plus that I applied with him. My mom doesn't need a visa because she's a US citizen. I can't assure this though. I mean, that you'll get approved if you apply with family, or there are less chances for approval if you apply solo. How the embassy decides about this, we will never truly know... 

HOW MUCH DID YOU SPEND ALL IN ALL?

P1500 for the travel agency service fee, P6500 for the visa fee, P1200 for the courier = P9200

---

So if you're applying anytime soon,
don't be late for your visa appointment and make sure to prepare all your requirements (original and photocopy)

And... GOODLUCK! 
Hope this helps!

You can comment here or email me at tracyayson@gmail.com if you have any questions!


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